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For Libraries, MOOCs Bring Uncertainty and Opportunity

For Libraries, MOOCs Bring Uncertainty and Opportunity

By Jennifer Howard at the Chronicle of Higher Education

“Philadelphia — A lot of the discussion about massive open online courses has revolved around students and professors. What role can academic librarians play in the phenomenon, and what extra responsibilities do MOOCs create for them?”

“At a conference held here at the University of Pennsylvania last week, librarians talked about the chances and challenges that open online courses throw their way. The conference, “MOOCs and Libraries: Massive Opportunity or Overwhelming Challenge?,” was organized by OCLC, a library cooperative that runs the WorldCat online catalog and provides other services and library-related research.”

“Ms. O’Brien had one piece of basic advice for librarians wondering what to make of MOOC mania: Take a MOOC or two to see what they’re really like. “You can’t be a valued adviser if you don’t understand what it takes to do one of these courses,” she told the audience.”

“Ms. Bordac described some of the many jobs librarians could be called on to do in support of MOOCs. Library personnel might need to negotiate with publishers over course materials, help make fair-use decisions, track down public-domain images, provide digital production services, set up teaching spaces and equipment, and/or provide TAs with extra support, especially when the lead professor is also very busy with on-campus courses. At Brown, Ms. Bordac said, she serves as “a connector” among many several different offices and groups, including the university counsel’s office, media services, and the university library.”

In the summer of 2012, Berkeley joined the nonprofit edX venture, founded by Harvard University and MIT. Ms. Dorner said the university had a wide assortment of online-education offerings beyond edX. That gives students a lot of options. It can also be a headache for librarians asked to provide support for many different kinds of courses. “The lack of coordination and lack of centralization really do pose challenges for the library,” Ms. Dorner said.

“But librarians also can’t afford to sit back and let the phenomenon develop without their input. “It’s important for libraries to be engaged in the conversation and present and watching,” Ms. Proffitt said. “This is a great time for experimentation.””

Posted on: April 20, 2013, 6:46 am Category: Uncategorized

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